This guide provides information and resources on librairians, archivists, curators and collectors of African descent in the United States. The guide provides a brief history of select African Americans in each of these fields along with references to books, websites and articles that illustrate the lives of African Americans in these professions and the triumphs and challenges they face in the past as well as the present.
Arturo Alfonso Schomburg (January 24, 1874 - June 8, 1938)
Arturo Alfonso Schomburg was a historian, writer, activist, curator and collector of materials related to the African diaspora. Born in Puerto Rico, his mother was of African descent from the carribean island of St. Croix and his father was a German descended Purerto Rican. Once he moved to New York in 1891 he began to collect works based on the African diaspora and amassed a collection of up to 10,000 documents. The Schomburg center was named in dedication to him for his extensive work as a curator and in regards to collecting works of the African diaspora. The Schomburg center is part of the New York Public Library and contains various collections related to the African diaspora from all over the globe both onsite and digitally. The center also hosts various exhibitions, lectures and screenings throughout the year.
Dorothy Porter Wesley (May 25, 1905 – December 17, 1995)
Dorothy Porter Wesley was born in Warrenton, Virgina the dsaughter of tennis champion Bertha Ball Burnett, and physician Hayes Joseph Burnett. Wesley was educated at Howard University receiving a B.A. in 1928. She was also one of the first African American women to receive a masters degree in library Science from Columbia University in 1932. After receiving her degree she began to work as part of the library staff at Howard University. During her forty three tenure at Howard, Wesley became the adminster of the Library of Negro Life and History which is now known as the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center. She aquired various works related to African American history and culture helping to increase the size of the research center from 3,000 works in 1930, to 180,000 materials at her retirement in 1973.
Lucille Baldwin Brown
Lucille Baldwin Brown was born to Mr. and Mrs. Dallis Baldwin on Suwannee Street in the Smokey Hollow community of Florida. Her parents helped to cofound the St. John Church (currently named the New St. John Church). However, Baldwin took a different path than her parents and grew to become the first African American public county librarian in Tallahassee, Florida.
Daniel Alexander Payne Murray (March 3 1852 - March 31, 1925)
Daniel Payne Murray was born in Baltimore, Maryland onn 1852 to a freed slave. He moved to Washington D.C. when he was nine years old and worked various jobs such as one with his brother, who was a caterer for the United States Senante Restaurant. In 1871 he became part of the twele person staff at the Library of Congress as the personal assistant to Ainsworth Rand Spofford . Murray was the second African American to hold that position and was later promoted to assistant librarian in 1881. During his tenure at the Library of Congress, Murray compiled books, pamphlets and other works by African Americans.
Vivian Gordon Harsh (May 27, 1890 - August 17, 1960)
Vivian Gordon Harsh was born in Chicago, Illonois to two educated parents. She worked as a junior clerk at the Chicago library after highschool and went on to receive a B.A. in library science at Simmons College in 1921. Simmons became the first African American librarian in the Chicago Public Library system in 1924. Harsh's life paralleled Arturo Schomburg's as they were both dedicated to collecting and preserving materials such as rare books and other documents related to the African diaspora. Like Schomburg, Harsh helped to amass a large collection documenting the history and culture of the African diaspora, particularly in the Chicago, Illonois area helping to create the largest African American history and literature collection in the midwest. The Vivian G. Harsh Society stands today and continues to collect materials related to the history and culture of the African diaspora.
Jean Blackwell Hutson (September 7, 1914 – February 4, 1998)
Jean Blackwell Hutson was born in Sommerfield, Florida she was the daughter of Paul Blackwell, a farmer and merchant, and Sarah Myers Blackwell, a teacher. In 1948, Ms. Hutson became chief of the Schomburg Research Center, she worked at the schomburg center until 1980 when she retired. During her tenure she managed to help to grow the collection of the African diaspora from 15,000 materials to 75,000.